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Platinum Pudding: How I became a baker and designed the Jubilee pudding

Jemma Melvin, 32, lives in Southport, Merseyside. She was the winner of a competition to find a pudding to mark Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee. She created a lemon and amaretti trifle.

I have loved baking all my life, and have always had basic skills, but I think in the last five years, I have really started experimenting with techniques and flavours and upped my game.

I would spend weekends at my grandma’s house whilst my parents had to work, making the basics like biscuits and scones with her and my brother. My gran also made my birthday cake every year which I was always fascinated with.

How I created the Platinum Pudding

In 2022, the prestigious Fortnum and Mason held a competition to find a dessert to be the official dish of our late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. The idea is that it would follow in the footsteps of the Victoria Sponge and Coronation Chicken.

Over 5,000 people entered, and the BBC picked it up for TV with a judging panel led by Dame Mary Berry.

The brief was something fit for the Queen, with a nice story behind it, and something that people could make for their street party celebrations.

My Platinum Pudding entry was a trifle; a citrus and Amaretti trifle. It was inspired by the traditional trifle itself, but the flavour profile was based on the dessert that the Queen had at her wedding, which was lemon posset, traditionally served with Amaretti biscuits.

It had many layers, starting with a lemon Swiss roll, topped with St Clement’s jelly, then lemon custard, then a layer of Amaretti biscuits, then a chunky mandarin coulis, whipped cream and then finally white chocolate shards jewelled with candied citrus peel.

And it turned out that it was pretty damn good! My entry made the final 50, and then the final five. And that’s when it all got a little bit crazy!

TV appearances

The BBC cameras turned up to my little house in Southport to film my ‘backstory’. Not before James and I took two days off work to clean my house like it had never been cleaned before!

I got to surprise my beloved gran with the cameras and tell her I was about to head to London to bake my entry in front of Mary Berry, Monica Galletti and the panel, and I’d get to do it in the famous kitchens of the Diamond Jubilee Tea station at Fortnum and Mason.

The journey had truly begun, and within a couple of weeks it was time to head down to film the show, so I jumped on the train, not knowing what to expect.

It was mental… Two days of filming, it was really high pressure, but so amazing. Mary Berry was everything you’d expect, kind and wonderful, but also a very thorough judge. I was absolutely terrified when she picked up my lemon Swiss roll to examine the swirl…but when she gave me a little wink, I knew I had done good!

To cut a long story short, and if you want to catch the rest, the programme is called ‘The Platinum Pudding: 70 Years in the Baking’ on BBCiPlayer and YouTube.

I won. My pudding won. And when I say I was shocked, I mean it.

This pudding created in my tiny kitchen, in the good old North of England, was now going to go down in food history, whatttttt!?

But not yet…I  had two excruciating months of keeping it all a secret and was thrust into media training…questioning, it’s not going to be that big is it? I was wrong. It was HUGE.

Life after Platinum Pudding show

The program aired on BBC One on May 12th 2022, and my life changed.

We all gathered in London to watch the show and it was such a surreal experience, I watched it through my hands, totally cringing at myself.  We then got to head to the Fortnum and Mason food and drink awards (another whattt?? moment!) and this would be the big reveal to the food industry.

They brought mini versions of the pudding out and served them to the whole room and I can’t describe to you how mind-blowing it was to look around and see my food heroes eating something I had created

From then on, it was the beginning of Trifle on Tour!

I did BBC Breakfast, Heart with Amanda Holden, This Morning, ITV News, Sky News and all international press including America’s NBC Today.

The Jubilee celebrations

Then it was a small break until the actual Platinum Jubilee celebrations, when I had one of the best weeks of my life.

It was more TV and press, including Good Morning Britain, The One Show, TF1 France, Radio 2 with Rob Beckett and the craziest experience yet, Good Morning America!

I even got to attend the actual Platinum Jubilee Pageant and a party at Marlborough House.

I have to tell you this one story from the party to illustrate how crazy that time in my life was. There were lots of celebrities there, and someone I love is Ruth Jones (Nessa). I just couldn’t summon up the courage to go over. We ended up in a queue next to each other for the toilet and I just had to say hello, and she was like ‘omg, I need to get my sister, she made your trifle, let’s all get a picture together’!!

Life absolutely made.

From there, the biggest joy was seeing thousands of people up and down the country making the Platinum Pudding for their celebrations, and every time anyone sent me a picture, I just welled up. It’ll forever be one of the biggest honours of my life!

Since the win…

I have had so many amazing opportunities.

The pudding went on sale in Fortnum and Mason and sold out every single day, raising thousands and thousands for charity.

I got to tour up and down the country demoing the recipe to excited crowds.

My trifle got served at amazing events such as Chelsea Flower Show… And in Walt Disney World in Florida!

I’ve teamed up with amazing brands such as Ford, Hilton and even created a special recipe for Macmillan’s Coffee Morning Campaign.

I have just been honoured with a portrait in Fortnum and Mason, and got to sit for famous artist David Remfry. The picture now hangs in The Diamond Jubilee Tea station where it all began.

And I became a series regular on BBC Morning Live, sharing fun and easy recipes and learned the ropes of live TV!

And I hope there’s even more to add to my story in the coming years!

What’s next…

“Don’t say yes to everything!” Which was advice from the wonderful Monica Galetti. It’s easy to get wrapped up in everything when lots of opportunities come your way, but not everything is right for you, and too much can actually hinder you, so don’t spread yourself too thin.

Where do I see myself in five years time? Continuing to be creative with food, creating recipes that make people happy!

You can see what Jemma is working on by following her on Instagram @icedbyjem

Charlotte Harding
Charlotte Harding
Charlotte is a journalist and the co-founder of The Women's Work Collective.
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